It is difficult to fathom the current state of the United States and the World. Messages of hate and violence appear to overshadow messages of love and peace, and injustices to the planet and most of her population are met with no response from those who are in positions of power. I have no intention of summarizing the actions (and inactions) of the United States government, for these appear everywhere: in social media, in news media from all sides, and in daily interactions with my fellow citizens. I have no intention of summarizing the injustices and acts of war around the world, all in the name of supremacy and religion, because these also appear everywhere.

Amongst this projected anger and fear, I find very few messages of hope. But I have hope for a bright future in the hands of the brilliant rising generation, beautiful roses that they are.

My dear friend Garth Bardsley and I collaborated on a set of music for choir and orchestra. The second of these pieces contains the most beautiful message of hope I have had the privilege to set. Please read Garth’s words and listen to the second movement of Laude! performed by a chorus and orchestra of roses from The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam.

Sovrana sì ne’ sembianti thesor pien di pietança.
(A sovereign she appears, a treasure full of mercy)

Beneath my feet, the sun-scorched earth,
Liquescent in the heavy haze,
Lay still.

The empty land, so cracked, so parched,
Denied all hope that Hope may still
Be born.

Such sorrow seized my heart and filled
My eyes with tears which fell upon
The earth

And slaked its thirst that, underneath
The sterile dust, new life began
To stir.

Emerging from this nothingness
A bud began to coil towards
The light

And where there once was nought, now stands
A beautiful rose – immanent –

For thus amidst the barren ground
The beautiful and good may still be found

Sovrana sì ne’ sembianti thesor pien di pietança.

Shannon Stoddard, soprano
Crane Chorus and Symphony Orchestra
Jeffrey Francom, conductor
December 4, 2016 at Helen M. Hosmer Hall, The Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam, Potsdam, NY

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